Whether you’re a seasoned torrent user or you’re just a beginner, you’ve probably heard about the US government shutting down Kickass Torrents, the widely used torrenting website. The official website is offline and you’re met with a large seizure notification when you open it. Some alternatives are therefore needed.
The situation is no better in other countries. For instance, ISPs in Australia have blocked numerous torrenting websites, including Kickass.to. The US and other countries are working hard to have the Artem Vaulin, the Polish owner of the website, to be extradited in order to be prosecuted. With all this drama unfolding, what alternatives are available for torrent users in search of a top-quality torrent website and, most importantly, how can they use the websites safely?
There exists a plethora of torrenting websites from which you can legally and freely download a wide variety of media. Our experts advise users to download and share media using legal torrenting websites. Infringement of intellectual property rights is not encouraged. When used the right way through official and legal services, torrenting is a perfectly legal way of downloading and sharing content.
It therefore goes without saying that you ought to consider the laws, victims and privacy risks involved before streaming and downloading copyrighted content without the owner’s permission.
Ensuring safety while using alternatives to Kickass.to
Torrenting through an unsecured Internet connection is generally a bad idea whether it’s done on official or unofficial websites. When you connect to torrenting services, you become one of many file sharers in a large network. That also means that anyone can see your IP address, including copyright owners who are out to catch people involved in pirating their materials. ISPs can also see your IP address as they monitor your network traffic.
Not even layering torrent trackers can keep you safe. Your IP address is still clearly visible on any website because every torrent website is connected to the larger BitTorrent network. One way to resolve this problem is seeding through a proxy service, such as a DNS proxy. However, the more secure, hassle-free, and effective solution is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Our experts test and research many VPN services on a regular basis and write reviews to help you find the right provider for your needs. Among the factors considered are well-maintained servers and strict user Privacy Policies, both of which are especially essential for torrent users who want effective and efficient downloads as well as maximum security. Expert reviewers at VPN Base also give preference to providers that offer users money-back guarantees so that the users can test the services risk-free.
If you’re among the users who are considering to improve anonymity by using BitTorrent over Tor, note that Tor does not support torrenting and your IP addresses can leak if you use this method. All this is well-articulated by Tor on its website.
Free and legal torrenting services
Many people don’t realize that there are a few websites through which you can legally torrent material. Below is a list of services and websites that offer torrent users legally available content.
- Public Domain Torrents
The number of public domain movies available online is almost 1000, and Public Domain Torrent offers access to them. The website organizes the movies into a variety of categories, including drama, action, comedy, and sci-fi, all of which you can legally torrent.
The website is compatible with all BitTorrent clients. Additionally, you can visit the page which displays top activity based on the volume of leechers and seeders. Compared to other torrenting services, however, Public Domain Torrents is a bit old school. It certainly works, but some aspects of the service are no longer useful. One example is the section that offers PSP and iPod versions of films.
- Internet Archive
Among the most well-established services for freely and legally torrenting material is Internet Archive, which boasts tens of millions of various media types, including music, movies and games. Also available is an ocean of archived websites, digital books, and images among other digital material.
To find torrents, just head over to the “Archive Torrents” section. The website relies on the BitTorrent network. As a result, its archive has in abundance a vast library that is accessible through nearly all torrent clients. Clients recommended by our experts include Vuze, µTorrent and Transmission.
Vuze serves mainly as a BitTorrent client. However, it also offers a section for downloading and sharing legal torrents. Movies and videos are the primary focus of the Vuze Studio HD Network. Categories covered Movies, TV, News, Nature and Science, Music Videos, Motors and Sports, Games and Tech, and Comedy.
If you’re interested in even more options for legal torrents, this service provides a comprehensive list on their wiki website, which includes a wide range of options for legal torrenting. These include:
- http://academictorrents.com/ for academia. It has more than 22 terabytes of public content available for download.
- http://bt.etree.org/ for recordings of gigs and concerts.
- net for indie movies and public domain films.
- Legit Torrents
Like the name suggests, Legal Torrents offers free and legal torrents for download. The material available includes software, books, movies and games. Note, however, that no new content has been uploaded since 2014.
Alternatives to Kickass Torrents that you should avoid
Below are websites which prioritize illegal content even though they do offer some legal content. Using these websites for torrenting is not recommended.
Offers torrent files and magnet links.
RAPGB still gets a lot of traffic seeing as it’s not among the most popular websites in the industry. While it hasn’t achieved the infamy of Kickass Torrents, it hasn’t evaded the notice authorities thanks to its slowly increasing popularity. So caution is advised while using it.
It hasn’t yet been blocked in most countries and has rarely been faced any of the take-downs that have plagued its larger and more popular competitors. So you can still torrent via the website, though serving as a seeder and uploading on the website might not be possible because of restrictions on registration.
Since the website focuses heavily on sharing illegal content, we do not recommend using it. But that is not to say that it does not offer legal content such as open source software, freeware, shareware, and public domain content. Nevertheless, the fact remains that most users on the websites are there for copyrighted content.
Offers torrent files and magnet links.
In perhaps what can be seen as a strange twist of irony, some members of the torrenting have been upset by this site’s move to hijack YTS (YIFY), another popular service for torrenting. However, despite some grumbles here and there, many torrent users still use it even though some other torrenting services refuse to collaborate with it.
The controversies surrounding it aside, YTS has a format that is arguably better than most. Films are its main focus, meaning you might want to look elsewhere if you want to torrent software. A majority of the films available on the website are in violation of copyright law seeing as they are not distributed by the copyright holders.
Offers torrent files and magnet links.
ExtraTorrent is among torrenting services that are becoming increasingly popular. Its lack of a pleasing layout appears to not be an issue for many torrent users. Moreover, numerous access websites for ExtraTorrent are available. You can find legal downloads on the website, with material ranging from music, free-to-download images, open source software and public domain films. Still, most of the material on offer is illegal.
Offers only torrent files.
This website opened following the shutting down of Torrentz.eu. Unlike YTS.AG, this website made it known to the torrenting community that it was a stand-in website for the original. A search on Torrentz gives you access to over 60 specialized private trackers and websites.
On this website, you can find most content types, including material that is freely and legally available for download. However, the vast majority of users on the website are there for illegal file-sharing, which VPN Base does not condone.
Offers torrent files and magnet links.
Pirate Bay has somehow managed to endure unending legal battles. Nonetheless, many ISPs still block the website. At one point in 2017, all Pirate Bay sites and mirrors were down for reasons unknown. You should, therefore, have alternatives handy because this can happen any time. The website offers a wide variety of material, including free software. So, while it’s a solid solution for legal torrenting, extreme caution is advised as it’s mired by heavy illegal activity.
The risks of torrenting
Torrenting gets a bad rap despite the fact that not all torrenting activity is in violation of copyright laws. Admittedly, its poor reputation is a result of the massive amount of pirating activity it is used for. Many torrenting websites like to make it clear that they only exist as a service that is not responsible for what users choose to do with it.
Various law enforcement agencies and government authorities aren’t satisfied with that claim, which is why many founders of The Pirate Bay were seized and fined for breaking copyright laws.
At this point, you might be thinking to yourself that you can’t be found culpable because you don’t own the torrent websites you use. But bear in mind that regular users face real legal and security danger and casual use of these services can be harmful. The following are some of the risks associated with torrenting.
- Legal issues
The mechanics behinds torrenting services are such that users inadvertently download copyrighted content, something that is illegal in nearly every country. Most countries, though, do not go after regular users of the services. They instead focus their efforts on heavy seeders and owners of the websites.
In most cases, when using a torrent service, you’re both a seeder and leecher because the system works by distributing file downloads across various networks. That means that as you download a part of a file, you’re at the same time seeding it to other users. Same goes for all users on the network. It is for this reason that torrents are a lot faster than regular FTP downloads, hence their popularity. Speed and efficiency make it the perfect tool.
However, using the service also makes you a sharer of the files, which is what gets most torrent users in trouble with the law. If you share a few files here and there, you need not worry. But if you’re a heavy user, regularly sharing GBs of material, you become a target for the authorities, even if you shared the material unwittingly.
- Security and privacy issues
Privacy and security are the primary reasons a growing number of torrent users are using VPN services. Torrenting exposes your IP address to everyone on the network, and that raises some crucial concerns.
To begin with, if your IP address is not disguised by a VPN or proxy service, anyone can see it and use it as a backdoor to breach your system, obtain sensitive information about, and perhaps extort you. Essentially, your IP address is the computer’s version of a home address. It can be used to determine where you are.
Swatting, where someone makes a fake 911 call in order to have the police send a SWAT team to someone’s home, is a common occurrence. For example, viewers watching a Twitch steamer can obtain the broadcaster's IP address and make the fake 911 calls.
In terms of security, risks you face include fake torrent. Well-established torrent websites put in place safeguards against this but many don’t, believing instead that their seeders have no malicious intent. While these safeguards may protect against malware in software or movies, they are not foolproof. Hacking the system is not difficult and viruses can make it to your device if you don’t have a powerful anti-virus.
Admittedly, VPNs may not keep you safe for virus-infected and fake torrents, but they will hide your sensitive information and make you less of an easy target.
Torrenting with a VPN
When looking good VPN service for torrenting, consider the following:
- Speed. While torrenting is aimed at improving speed, you still want a VPN service that offers fast connections and good bandwidth.
- IP and DNS leak protection. The point of using a VPN is to hide your identity while torrenting, so it is imperative that the VPN service you use in no way leaks your information. Go for services with features such as an automatic kill switch, which terminates your Internet connection when your VPN connection drops.
- Providers based in a privacy-friendly country. The laws in some countries are favorable to online privacy, meaning VPN providers based in those countries will not be compelled to share users’ data. Examples of such countries include Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands.
- Unlimited bandwidth. Top speeds go well with unlimited bandwidth. Make sure the VPN services you consider support torrenting and offer unlimited data because torrenting is usually a bandwidth-heavy activity.
Is there an alternative to torrenting?
Yes. A popular alternative to torrent file-sharing is Usenet, which doesn’t distribute files using a peer-to-peer network. Usenet providers instead rely on centralized servers, meaning you need not be a seeder to obtain material. Compared to torrenting, Usenet is usually faster but it quickly exhausts bandwidth.
Furthermore, while a paid subscription is required for Usenet, using it to download copyrighted content is still illegal. The service is also less widely used that BitTorrent and is more private, meaning there are less legal risks associated with it. It is, nonetheless, a good idea to use Usenet with a VPN.
To use Usenet, you need an indexer, a newsreader client and a subscription. Some providers offer packages that include all three. Otherwise, indexers and newsreaders are freely available online.